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I f I didn't know better, I'd think this was "Weekly Wire: The Education Issue." A major chunk of the week's news articles focus on education -- and they're almost all from different newspapers. Such synchronicity! There must be something in the air.

A  couple of these articles discuss the aftermath of this fall's campus alcohol-poisoning incidents, and the history of temperance movements in general. Other articles examine education as it relates to race, bringing up important questions like: Why do minority students chastise other minority students when they do well, saying they're "acting white"? Why does the predominantly black Louisiana State University maintain such low admissions standards, and why can't they change the white/black enrollment ratio? And speaking of minorities, why are high schools unable to protect their gay students from education-debilitating harassment?

W hy, why, why.... Fortunately there's one writer who devotes his whole column exclusively to providing answers. Michael Ventura's Letters at 3AM essay re-thinks the problems with education and attempts to provide a root solution. This is part two of a two-part series; the first part, which ran two weeks ago, is also recommended.

A lso, if you thought UFO belief and its consequent widespread merchandising (or is it the other way around?) was out of control, wait till you read this article about the Christian products boon. From the "Bibleopoly" board game to "Christafarian" reggae groups, there's nothing these heavenly marketers won't touch. Heck, I bet they'd even try to sell sawdust formations in the shape of Jesus. Wait a minute, that's already happened! Somebody saw His face in a pile of buzzsaw shavings! Stop the presses! (Or whatever they say on the Internet....stop the server?)

E lsewhere, you can observe two editorialists battling it out over public officials' responsibilities when they get cancer; or you can laugh, or perhaps cry, about a New Jersey school's decision to abolish Halloween and St. Valentine's Day, the latter of which has been changed to Special Persons Day. (Isn't "Special Person" a euphemism for someone who is mentally retarded?)

W e've also got some kooky columns about the joys of domestic Spin Doctoring, the depressing economic realities of mid-life, and the wasted potential that El Niño represents for all of us who have gone years without a good, solid scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in our lives. Yep, there's plenty of important information in this here Weekly Wire Education Issue. Stick around, you might learn something.


Columns
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Letters @ 3AM
Part two of "A Revolutionary Letter on Education." [16]
Michael Ventura

The Horror Within
Margaret Renkl on a parent's worst fears. [17]
Margaret Renkl

Uh, Happy Halloween
How are America's children going to learn anything about our culture if tight-assed educators eliminate every observance that has roots, however deeply or distantly, in the spiritual world? [18]
Jeff Smith

Odds & Ends
Timed-release news capsules from the flipside. [19]
Devin D. O'Leary

Mr. Smarty Pants
Our resident know-it-all unearths the latest trivia. [20]
R.U. Steinberg

Volume I, Issue 23
November 10 - November 17, 1997

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Impaired Judgment
The drinking death of an MIT student stirred a nationwide debate about college alcohol abuse. Everyone wants to prevent future tragedies. But a crackdown is no solution. [2]
Jason Gay

Sober Again?
Is America in the midst of another temperance movement? [3]
Jason Gay

Tales Out of School
High-achieving minority students face taunts of "acting white." [4]
Roseana Auten

Lightening Up
Tennessee State University says it has lots of white students, but where are they? [5]
Liz Murray Garrigan; Photography by Susan Adcock

It's a Bash
Four years of high school is a distinctly different experience if you happen to be a young gay or lesbian. Your curriculum can involve threats and hostile looks. It's an education in taunts and a lesson in humiliation. [6]
Ben Fulton

Alien Nation
Do they walk among us, or do we just wish they did? [7]
Jim Hanas

Godly Goods
The "Christian Lifestyle" industry -- offering every product from T-shirts to action figures -- is booming. Is the marketing of the Almighty at odds with Christian values? [8]
Katie Allison Granju

Hearth & Soul
An ode to sawdust. [9]
Suzy Banks


Opinion
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Coffees Are Just Talk
Our erudite editorial staff sounds off. [10]
Angie Drobnic

A Healthy Situation?
New Mexico politics from our resident mole. [11]
Jack Moczinski

Sickening Vulgarity
Angry young man, or grumpy old fart? You decide. [12]
Cap'n O

Spin Dr. Mom
Our family isn't half empty, it's half full. [13]
Marion Winik

Future Shock
How one man completely miscalculated his future retirement plans. [14]
Bruce R. Baird

Ill Wind
John Bridges on that all-purpose rascal El Niño. [15]
John Bridges


Now What?
Can't get enough news? You're in luck -- more news is created every day. Our Now What? page offers a plethora of recommended links to help keep you living in the present. [21]


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